There’s a little girl we know called Ella. She’s around about four years old now. I know this because she was one of the first customers we ever had at the Fleur De Lys, when she was only a couple of weeks old.

Ella has been the centre of family gatherings at the Fleur ever since. She’s grown from eating nuclear coloured baby food that we’ve warmed up for her into a high chair with her own little meal, and has now graduated to sitting at the centre of the table between her proud grandparents and demanding ‘banilla’ ice cream at the end of the meal all by herself

The family have swelled in size. Ella now has a younger sibling. Her parents bring their own brothers and sisters along for Sunday lunch. The in-laws and the outlaws all join together. They arrive bang-on noon and they enjoy a languorous three course meal with perhaps a bottle of wine and one or two pints of our guest bitter. They come to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or just the opportunity to see each other again before the year ends.

This family have come to represent everything that we have ever attempted to achieve at our country pubs.

They settle into the casual, cosy surroundings and get lost in each other’s company whilst we get on with the business of feeding and watering them. The afternoon sun reaches high as they arrive and begins slumping in the sky as they filter out into the car park, calling for Ella to leave the playground. They are so warm and friendly and genuinely loving of our pub that I can’t help but give them an impromptu hug whenever they turn up.

The Fleur was made for family get-togethers. It harbours both a rollicking good time and a personal intimacy. It provides the backdrop for good news, for soul searching, for chilling out or pigging out. It’s the place you get drunk and the place where you nurse a hangover. It welcomes your little family of three, and your enormous family that requires several tables to be pushed together to host all 26 of you. In the winter it will soothe you, in the summer it will adore you. It’ll watch your children grow from tiny infants to independent miniature humans. It’s the place where you come to make memories and it will always remind you of all the times you shared here. It is home.

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